Earlier this month, SA Cricket magazine spoke exclusively to South Africa’s new Test squad recruit Temba Bavuma, about characteristic curiosity, diminutive size, maturity – and more. Here’s the article again in case you missed it.
SAC: Congratulations on your call-up, which must have brought considerable emotion …
Bavuma: I have managed to calm down since hearing the news. I got a call from Andrew Hudson, who congratulated me after telling me I have been named in the Test squad. I was very excited, even scared, when I got that call. But I have since calmed down after telling my parents and others about the big news.
You strike many fans, pundits and players as an inquisitive character. Is this a fitting attribute?
I am always trying to learn. I have always been the type of guy who learns things from others by looking at the way they prepare and how they go about their business. I used to ask the senior guys at the Lions, like Neil McKenzie, Alviro Petersen, Zander de Bruyn, Stephen Cook, a lot of questions. I still do.
Suggestion that you frequently display maturity beyond your 24 years, too, abounds …
Growing up, I’ve always played with guys who are older than me. That forced me to kind of get up there quicker in a way. Another thing that helped me was doing a post-matric year at my school – St David’s Marist in Sandton, Johannesburg. The previous year, I had passed well – with distinction. Doing that extra year, having to get through that, toughened me up a bit more.
Like Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and others, you are relatively short. Is your diminutive stature beneficial?
My height, it can be an advantage – and a disadvantage. I’ve never been a tall person, obviously, so it’s hard for me to say from that point of view. Being short, though, as a batsman, can make bowlers struggle. Some bowlers have said to me they struggle to find the ideal line and length for me, which affords me more loose balls to score off.
While Stiaan van Zyl’s debut has been confirmed for the series opener against the West Indies, you are not necessarily going to play any of the three Tests …
It is going to be a great privilege, regardless. If I don’t get the opportunity to make a Test debut, just being around the world-class players in the Proteas squad will be great for me anyway. The type of person I am, being very inquisitive in my nature, I will be trying to learn as much as I can from the world-class guys in the squad. I want to adapt to that sort of environment in the South African set-up, too.
Has Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana been the most influential mentor during your cricket career?
Geoff has been very influential. Working under him has been great. I have enjoyed his style as a leader. I’ve adapted well under him. We work together well. He is always there for me, willing to assist in any capacity. I have had a lot of influential people play a role in my life and cricket. I can’t name names because I don’t want to miss any.
What have you gleaned from Chris Gayle during the West Indian batsman’s stint with the Lions?
Chris is a superstar. He is a world-class player. He contributes a lot – on and off the field. He is a true professional. I have been fortunate to play cricket with him. Being around him, watching what he does and how he does it, I have come to learn a lot.
You will soon require a swift change of mindset from limited-overs competition in the Ram Slam T20 Challenge to preparation for Test match cricket …
It is more a change of the mental side than anything else. The technical side of the game, it will always be there. Getting my mind ready will be the biggest adjustment needed. Technically, the formats are pretty much alike. But it’s about getting the mind right for the change from short-format to long-form cricket.
By Jonhenry Wilson